How to Make Preservatives for Fresh Cut Flowers


Once fresh flowers are harvested, the foliage and blooms begin to wilt or fade. Although cutting the flowers before they are fully open prolongs the life of the cut flower, it also poses risk of having pale petals and stems. Flowers that develop when the sugar level in the plant is low may lack bright color and fade quickly. The easiest way to combat this effect is to provide a floral preservative that supplies the needed sugar. However, sugar promotes the growth of harmful microorganisms. Adding a biocide with the sugar is necessary to inhibit the growth of microorganisms and maintain healthy cut flowers.

Lemon-Lime Soda

Step 1

Mix 1 pint of lemon-lime soda with 1 pint of distilled water in a pitcher or bowl. The lemon-lime soda provides the needed sugar for flowers and provides some acidic acid. The acidic acid works to lower the pH of the water. This allows good uptake as water travels up the stem quicker in low pH.

Step 2

Add ½ tsp. of chlorine bleach to the water and soda solution. Mix well to distribute the bleach evenly in the solution. Bleach works as a biocide killing microorganisms in the water.

Step 3

Fill the vase with your homemade floral preservative and add fresh cut flowers. Change the solution every three to five days, or when it becomes cloudy.

Lemon Juice and Sugar

Step 1

Mix 2 tbsp. of lemon juice with 4 cups of distilled water in a pitcher or bowl. Lemon juice works to reduce the pH of the water allowing for good uptake.

Step 2

Add 1 tbsp. of sugar to the solution and mix well.

Step 3

Combine ½ tsp. of chlorine bleach with the solution. Pour into a vase. Arrange cut flowers.

White Vinegar Preservative

Step 1

Pour 4 cups distilled water in a pitcher or bowl. Add 2 tbsp. of white vinegar and stir to mix well. Tap water can be used, but must sit for 24 hours to remove chlorine before using.

Step 2

Dissolve 2 tbsp. of sugar into the mixture.

Step 3

Add 1 tsp. of chlorine bleach. Mix all ingredients well. Pour the floral preservative in a vase and arrange cut flowers. Change the preservative when water becomes cloudy.

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled water
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Sugar
  • Chlorine bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Pitcher/bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Vase


  • University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension: Sugar and Acidity in Preservative Solutions for Field-Grown Cut Flowers
  • Purdue University Extension: Add Hours to Your Flowers
Keywords: homemade floral preservative, make floral preservative, preservative for flowers

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.